The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a jittery Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) were engaged in efforts to save their ruling combine in Jharkhand on Thursday, with the former not carrying out its threat to formally withdraw support to the Shibu Soren government.
After declaring that the BJP would call on Governor MOH Farook at the Raj Bhavan at 5 pm to take back its legislative support to the JMM, the party failed to do so. Another meeting was supposedly scheduled two hours later but that too did not materialise.
This sparked off intense speculation that the two parties were locked in frantic efforts to rebuild their ties after the BJP reacted angrily to JMM chief and Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren's decision to support the Congress government in the Lok Sabha Tuesday on BJP-sponsored cut motions over the federal budgetary proposals.
Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde had said in New Delhi early Thursday that its legislators and ministers would meet the governor in the evening.
Officials in Ranchi said the BJP leaders instead went to the Raj Bhavan in the evening and said the party was yet to make up its mind.
Soren, who needs the BJP's support to remain in power, wrote a letter to BJP president Nitin Gadkari urging him to "forget" his act of voting with the ruling United Progressive Alliance during the cut motions.
He said he was not aware of the technicalities of the voting process. He added that his dream of carving out a Jharkhand state was realised in 2000 when the BJP ruled India.
Munde indicated that the BJP was not averse to considering a viable alternative after withdrawing support. "If there is a possibility of forming a good government, the party will consider it," he said.
Munde said no party was in a position to form government on its own in Jharkhand. But he said he was not aware of any discussions between the chief minister's Hemant Soren and Gadkari.
In significant remarks, the BJP indicated it would not make any immediate demand for imposition of President's Rule in the state.
BJP sources said that the meeting with the governor was rescheduled due to fresh offers from the JMM.
Hemant Soren had said on Wednesday night that the BJP had been requested to review its decision dump the JMM. He said the BJP could lead the government with JMM support.
BJP insiders said the party wanted Shibu Soren to resign as chief minister and formally hand over a letter offering support to a BJP government.
The Soren government will be reduced to a minority if the BJP backs out. In the 82-member Jharkhand assembly, the JMM and the BJP have 18 members each, All Jharkhand Students Union five, the Janata Dal-United has two.
The Congress has 14 members, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVP-M) of former chief minister Babulal Marandi has 11 and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) five. The others are mainly independents.
The Congress said on Wednesday it was watching the situation in Jharkhand and would not make a decision in a hurry.